Ford has tried to turn the Mustang into a track machine by putting it on a diet and giving it a new engine. Has it worked?
To put it politely, the Ford Mustang GT isn’t the first car you’d choose to develop into a stripped-out, no-compromise track machine.For one thing it’s a sizeable old bus – it’s 30 centimetres longer than the Porsche 911, a rather more obvious candidate, and some 10 centimetres wider – and for another it weighs the better part of 1800kg.There wasn’t a great deal Ford Performance could do about the Mustang’s size, but to give the Shelby GT350R a fighting chance on track it ditched the rear seats, the stereo, the navigation system and the air conditioning (although the latter three items can be added back in optionally). The wheels are exotic carbon fibre items, too, saving 6kg at each corner. The total weight loss over the 5.0 GT is 60kg, which is useful if not exactly transformative. The entire chassis has been overhauled with uprated components and a much more track-focussed setup, while a comprehensive aero package promises much more downforce than the regular car.Most unusually, though, the warbling V8 engine that powers the conventional Mustang has been ditched for a high-revving 5.2-litre flat-plane crank V8. That’s something of a departure for an American muscle car; flat-plane cranks and high-revving V8s have been the preserve of European sports cars until now. The new motor revs beyond 8000rpm, whereas the outgoing cross-plane V8 doesn’t reach far beyond 6500rpm. The power and torque figures hint at a revvy V8 rather than a lazy, torque-rich bruiser, too; 526bhp at 7500rpm and 429lb ft at 4750rpm are not typical Mustang numbers. The soundtrack isn’t typical Mustang either, the rumbling score replaced by highly-strung snarls and barks. …read more